A spermatocele (SPUR-muh-toe-seal) is an abnormal sac (cyst) that develops in the epididymis — the small, coiled tube located on the upper testicle that collects and transports sperm. Generally painless and noncancerous, a spermatocele usually is filled with milky or clear fluid that may contain sperm.
The exact cause of spermatoceles is unknown but may be due to a blockage in one of the tubes that drains sperm.
Spermatoceles, sometimes called spermatic cysts, are common. They typically don't reduce fertility or require treatment. If a spermatocele grows large enough to cause discomfort, your doctor may suggest surgery.
A spermatocele, also known as a spermatic cyst, is a typically painless, noncancerous (benign), fluid-filled sac that grows near the top of a testicle. ...
A spermatocele usually causes no signs or symptoms and may remain the same size. If it becomes large enough, however, you may feel:
When to see a doctor
It's a good idea to have your doctor evaluate any scrotal mass to rule out a serious condition, such as testicular cancer. You also need to call your doctor if you experience pain or swelling in your scrotum. A number of conditions can cause testicular pain, and some of the conditions require immediate treatment.
The cause of spermatoceles is unknown. Spermatoceles may result from a blockage in one of the tubes that drain sperm from the testicle into the epididymis. Trauma and inflammation also may cause spermatoceles.
There aren't many known risk factors for developing a spermatocele, except for increasing age. Spermatoceles are most often found in men between the ages of 40 and 60.
A spermatocele is unlikely to cause complications.
However, if your spermatocele is painful or has grown so large that it's causing you discomfort, you may need to have surgery to remove the spermatocele. Surgical removal may damage the epididymis or the vas deferens, a tube that transports sperm from the epididymis. Damage to either can reduce fertility. Another possible complication that can occur after surgery is that the spermatocele may come back.
Male reproductive system
The male reproductive system makes, stores and moves sperm. Testicles produce sperm. Fluid from the seminal vesicles and prostate gland combine with sperm to make semen. The penis ejaculates semen ...
Preparing for your appointment
You're likely to start by first seeing your family doctor or a general practitioner. However, you may then be referred to a doctor who specializes in treating the urinary tract and sex organs in men (urologist).
Because appointments can be brief, and there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to arrive well prepared. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
Your time with your doctor is often limited, so preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your time together. For spermatocele, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask additional questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
What you can do in the meantime
Tests and diagnosis
To diagnose a spermatocele, you'll need a physical exam. Although a spermatocele generally isn't painful, you may feel discomfort when your doctor examines (palpates) the mass.
You may also undergo the following diagnostic tests:
Treatments and drugs
Although your spermatocele probably won't go away on its own, most spermatoceles don't need treatment. They generally don't cause pain or complications. If yours is painful, your doctor may recommend that you take over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, others).
After surgery, you may need to wear a gauze-filled athletic supporter to apply pressure to and protect the site of the incision. Your doctor may also tell you to:
Possible complications from surgical removal that might affect fertility include damage to the epididymis or to the tube that transports sperm (vas deferens). It's also possible that a spermatocele may come back, even after surgery.
Damage to the epididymis is a possible complication of sclerotherapy. It's also possible that your spermatocele may come back. Sclerotherapy usually is used only for men who are beyond their reproductive years.
Although there's no way to prevent a spermatocele, it's important for you to conduct scrotal self-exams at least monthly to detect changes in your scrotum, such as masses. Your doctor can instruct you in how to conduct a testicular self-examination, which can improve your chances of finding a mass.
How to examine your testicles
By regularly performing this exam, you'll become more familiar with your testicles and aware of any changes that might be of concern. If you find a lump, call your doctor as soon as possible.
Regular self-examination is an important health habit. But it can't substitute for a doctor's examination. Your doctor normally checks your testicles whenever you have a physical exam.
To perform a testicular self-examination, grasp and roll the testicle between your thumbs and forefingers, feeling for lumps, swelling, hardness or other changes. ...
Last Updated: 2012-02-15
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